As a first-time mother, you will be filled with emotions ranging from giddiness and overwhelming love to apprehension and even fear -- after all, birth is scary! But don't worry, Mama, all these feelings are 100% valid and if you didn't get through nine months of pregnancy without some type of weird fluctuation in emotions, we would be worried.
So, to help a sister out, here's a list of 15 little things any first-time mother should know regarding pregnancy, birth, and the first couple weeks of parenting.
However, it will snap back! Those swollen ankles and stretch marks won't last forever. Swelling goes down and those pesky marks will fade. In the meantime, you'll be enjoying your snuggly little baby so much that you won't care.
Only 4% of all women deliver on their due date, so do not wait until last minute to pack that hospital bag or talk to your employer about maternity/paternity leave.
Keep your receipts as you really don't need that expensive bottle sanitizer, those stuffed animals, or the frilly bassinet. A crib works just fine, and is way more versatile.
Especially if you are not breastfeeding.
Or the third time or the sixteenth time. With patience, you and your child will be able to work together. And you can enlist the help of a lactation consultant, if things don't go smoothly at first. (Editor note: and if it doesn't work out at all? Your kid will still be fine, so don't feel guilty.)
As much as you can. Naps = gold.
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or midwife if you have questions, no matter how silly or embarrassed you may feel. They've heard it all before and can reassure you. Even if you are planning on a natural childbirth, research other birth options, such as epidurals and c-sections, just in case your birth doesn't go as planned.
Babies are used to lots of noise; the womb is a noisy place. So making your home pin-drop silent won't help them sleep any better.
So create newborn sleep patterns that revolve around the natural light outside. A good way to do this is to darken the room when it is nighttime outside; not only will your newborn sleep better, but as they grow, they will catch on and recognize when it is bedtime.
Always put your child in pajamas to help them associate the comfortable material with sleepy-time.
Trust us, you'll want to catch shut eye wherever and whenever possible. "Sleep when the baby sleeps" is a cliche for a reason.
As much as we all would like to be, being a supermom during the first weeks of motherhood is practically impossible. So take up those offers of meals, errand-running, and even house-cleaning. And if you're lucky enough to have Grandma and Grandpa near by -- or even doting aunts, uncles, and cousins -- let them take charge for a while when you need a break. They will enjoy quality time with the baby, and you can enjoy some Me Time.
I'm talking about an extra change of clothes for yourself and the baby, a blanket in case there is no changing table, nipple cream, wet wipes, extra diapers, and bottled water (nursing is thirsty work!).
Do what feels right, whether it is rocking them to sleep, singing a lullaby, or letting them fall asleep in their car seat. It is also important to note that newborn sleep is better quality when they have skin to skin contact with their parent.
Perhaps the most important tip we can share is this one: enjoy this magical time with your newborn! As the saying goes, the days may be long, but the years are short. Before you know it, you'll be looking back on your babymoon days with fondness.